Kerala State Electricity Board Limited (KSEBL) is an integrated utility with a consumer base of over 12 million. It looks after generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in the state. Its network comprises 11,065 km of extra high voltage lines, 59,496 km of high tension (HT) lines and 291,328 km of low tension (LT) lines. KSEBL has an installed generation capacity of 2,915.8 MW and its interstate transmission capacity stands at 2,699 MW. Over the years, the utility has taken significant strides in IT implementation. It formulated an IT policy way back in 2007 with the objective of enhancing services to consumers, improving operational efficiency and shifting to digitalisation.
An overview of KSEBL’s IT initiatives…
Some of the early IT initiatives were taken by KSEBL under the erstwhile Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (R-APDRP), which has now been subsumed under the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS). Under the programme, an integrated distribution automation system has been set up, which enables the utility to have real-time control over the energy sold. Further, infrastructure development activities worth Rs 2,140 million have been undertaken under the programme. A state-of-the-art data centre spanning over 4,500 square km has been set up at Trivandrum. In addition, a data recovery centre has been built at Cherthala and a customer care-cum-call centre has been set up in Trivandrum.
KSEBL has progressively computerised its billing services. In 2007, LT billing software, Oruma, which was developed in-house, was deployed by the utility. In 2009, a high tension HT/extra high tension (EHT) billing software called Enrgise was developed by an external agency and is maintained by the utility. Subsequently, in 2014, a centralised LT billing software, OrumaNet, was developed. This open source platform is still in operation.
The utility has also made the payment of electricity bills for all customers online. The payments can be made through e-wallets (Paytm and Vodafone), KSEBL mobile application, as well as the Apna CSC, Friends and Akshaya apps. It does not charge any transaction cost for the payments made by consumers. Further, the online system helps the utility transfer funds promptly to the bank due to direct integration.
Further, due to a centralised billing mechanism, consumers are provided with the facility to make payments for electricity bills anywhere in any section office or at any cash deposit machine. KSEBL has installed six cash deposit machines in four cities. KSEBL’s customer care centres also allow easy bill remittance, that is, a payment facility for bulk consumers through a single window.
In addition, KSEBL has commenced the “1912 toll-free facility” for consumers from 2013 onwards. The complaints and queries can be registered on this toll-free number and the customer care exchange is capable of handling 1,000 calls at a time.
In 2016-17, KSEBL’s in-house team launched the outage management system (OMS) – UrjaDoothu. As a part of UrjaDoothu, OMS has enabled the utility to disseminate distribution transformer (DT)-level outage information to customers through SMS. The OMS has also been integrated with the Urja Mitra portal for feeder-level outages.
Another customer-friendly service initiative launched in 2015-16 was the bill alert system – UrjaSowhrida. The system has enabled the utility to disseminate bill information to customers through SMS and email. The system sends reminder SMSs before the due date and disconnection date, and after disconnection and reconnection.
The utility has developed mobile applications for employees, which enable faster processing of customer requests. Further, the employees of KSEBL are equipped with the Services Safety Monitoring and Accident Reporting Tool. The tool monitors the availability and conditions of safety tools and ensures adoption of proactive measures for unsafe installations.
KSEBL is currently implementing supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA)/distribution management system in three cities – Trivandrum, Ernakulam and Kozhikode. The project is expected to be completed by December 2018. The implementing agency for the project is Schneider Electric India Private Limited, Vodafone is the bandwidth service provider and Kalki Communication Technologies Limited is the SCADA/DMS consultant. The three control rooms have already been commissioned, and end-to-end testing of 50 substations and installation of 2,865 feeder remote terminal units (FRTUs) have been completed. The testing of remote terminal units (RTUs) is under progress and integration of 80 per cent of FRTUs with the existing system has been completed.
Smart grid initiatives
KSEBL plans to implement smart grid projects in Kochi and Trivandrum under the National Smart Grid Mission. The detail project report (DPR) for the proposed project worth Rs 1,030 million has been prepared and submitted to the State Level Project Management Unit committee for recommendation. Meanwhile, the DPR for the proposed smart grid project worth Rs 1,260 million in Trivandrum is under preparation. The major components of the smart grid project is advanced metering infrastructure, peak load management, transformer monitoring units, renewable energy integration, energy storage and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Discussions are under way for funding the projects.
KSEBL is also implementing smart metering under the IPDS. It proposes to install 15,438 smart/prepaid meters in government buildings spread across 63 towns. The DPR was further revised to convert consumer meters under the electrical section to smart meters. Another DPR for a smart metering project under the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana has been submitted for 321,800 consumers.
Phase II IT implementation
KSEBL has also initiated the Phase II IT implementation project under the IPDS. KPMG Advisory Service Private Limited has been appointed as the project management agency for the project and the DPR for the project cost of Rs 220 million for 21 towns was approved by the Power Finance Corporation in February 2017. The expected time period for the implementation of the project is 30 months.
Rural Feeder Monitoring and RT-DAS
Under the Rural Feeder Monitoring and Real Time Data Acquisition System (RT-DAS), non-DLMS (device language message specification) meters are being replaced by DLMS meters in all 11 kV rural/mixed feeders. KSEBL targets to replace about 1,300 non-DLMS meters with DLMS meters, of which 843 DLMS meters have been installed. Further, RT-DAS is being implemented to cover feeders of substations within all non-SCADA, R-APDRP and IPDS towns for the automated measurement of reliability indices such as System Average Interruption Duration Index and System Average Interruption Frequency Index.
KSEBL is in the process of implementing enterprise resource planning (ERP), which is an organisational tool for integrating core business processes – finance and accounting, supply chain management and human resource management. KPMG Advisory Service Private Limited has been appointed as the consultant for implementing the ERP solutions. The DPR for the ERP solutions has been submitted for Rs 426.4 million, including a grant component of Rs 255.8 million.
The way forward
KSEBL has lined up a couple of IT initiatives for the near future. For instance, it plans to launch the National Automated Clearing House facility, which is an auto debit facility through Corporation Bank. In addition, enablement of billing facilities through the Bharat Bill Payment System is under progress. Further, KSEBL is seriously considering creating a cybersecurity policy for the utility. A tender for the security assessment of the existing IT and OT systems and formulation of a cybersecurity policy has already been floated by the utility.
KSEBL’s IT initiatives have won the utility various awards and accolades including the Digital India Knowledge Exchange Award, Kerala State e-Governance Award and Smart Infra Structure Innovation Award. Going forward, KSEBL aims to continue focusing on IT deployment to bring in improvements in its operational performance and consumer satisfaction.
(Based on a presentation by P.T. Seenath Beevi, Joint Director, MIS, Kerala State Electricity Board)